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Zeldin mailer uses wrong deadline for absentee ballots

Lee Zeldin, Republican incumbent candidate for U.S. Congress

Lee Zeldin, Republican incumbent candidate for U.S. Congress NY 1st District, poses for a portrait a law office located at 225 West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays on Thursday, Aug. 30. Credit: James Escher

For the second consecutive election, a Rep. Lee Zeldin campaign mailer has the wrong deadline for voters to return absentee ballots.

The Shirley Republican’s mailer told voters to postmark their ballots by Nov. 6. The actual deadline is Nov. 5.

Zeldin’s Democratic opponent Perry Gershon’s campaign said the mailers targeted likely Democratic voters, such as college students.

Zeldin’s campaign said the incorrect date was a mistake and provided a statement from its printer, PDQ Print and Mail, taking responsibility. The campaign said it sent a follow-up mail piece with the correct date.

“We absolutely want everyone to be completely aware that the date to postmark absentee ballots is November 5,” Zeldin campaign spokesman Chris Boyle said in a statement. He said age played no role in who received the mailer.

Gershon’s chief strategist said the mailers were a targeted dirty trick aimed at likely Democratic voters.

“It’s a baldfaced attempt at voter suppression in Democratic areas of Suffolk County,” Tim Minton, communications director, said.

A Zeldin campaign mailer in 2016 also listed the deadline to return absentee ballots a day late, which would disqualify the vote.

Bohemia-based PDQ Print and Mail owner Scott Nordin said in a statement that the Zeldin campaign had sent and approved the piece with Nov. 5, but “the wrong file was printed.” A new run with the corrected date has been sent out, he said.

Boyle said the campaign “caught that error before going to print and updated the proof, but the printer unfortunately ended up using the wrong version by accident.”

The campaign’s emails, Facebook ads, website landing page, have all referenced only the Nov 5 deadline, he said.

A half-dozen college students who requested absentee ballots, including some who live in New York's 2nd Congressional District, posted complaints about the flyer to liberal groups on Facebook over the weekend.

"It leads you to believe it's purposeful," said Deseri Tsepetis, 21, a global studies major at Loyola University of Maryland in Baltimore, who is registered to vote in Deer Park, in Rep. Peter King's district.

Kaitlyn Hart, 18, a SUNY Binghamton freshman and political science major, posted the mailer on Facebook after receiving it at college. She said, "It very easily could be a sloppy mistake. It's also suspicious to me it happened two years in a row."

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